Automotive industry

A virtual world with real opportunities?

Last year, Nike paid $33 million (just under R500 million) to acquire a sneaker company that makes sneakers you can’t wear. A few months later, Microsoft bought gaming giant Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion (just north of R1 trillion). Both deals were made with an eye to how the Metaverse is about to change our future.

But what exactly is the metaverse? More importantly, from a public relations perspective, how will this disrupt the way we do business? Danni Pinch, executive creative director for Atmosphere Communications and co-founder of King James Digital, predicts the future here.

The verse of what?

The idea of ​​metaverse-like spaces has been circulating for decades in the form of virtual reality, augmented reality, and 3D computing. The Metaverse is like a more immersive version of The Sims. In a metaverse, users can socialize, work, play, and do just about anything they would usually do in the real world.

This is important for PR because it opens up a box of opportunities for brands to be able to connect with people in new and exciting ways. Pinch says, “Think of the metaverse as the evolution of the internet. It is a more immersive virtual world or series of worlds that we navigate and are visibly present in.

As someone who was there for the changes the web wrought in the PR industry (which we’re still trying to figure out decades later), I guess you can’t underestimate the disruptive nature of that -this. It is likely to impact many industries and most of our customers.

How will this disrupt public relations?

The pandemic has changed the way we live so much. It not only introduced remote working on a large scale, it forced people to reimagine the way they socialized.

Deprived of the opportunity to meet in real life, people have taken to meeting online, in game worlds like Roblox, fortnite and Minecraft. These places have become “proto-metaverses”.

Combined with the explosion of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), brands have quickly discovered that metaverse spaces hold untapped potential in terms of finding new ways to build relationships with their audience.

NFT and metaverse: how to protect your brand in this digital phenomenon

Pinch says, “As adoption of the metaverse grows, I think we’re going to see opportunities to have more immersive experiences and get closer to customers in ways we’ve only been able to do at events or in stores. That said, it’s a bit difficult to accurately gauge just how disruptive the Metaverse will be, as it’s still under construction and we don’t yet know all of its capabilities.

A brave new world

One of the biggest problems that PR firms will face when they start dipping their toes into the metaverse is that, at least initially, it will be a bit haphazard.

“The metaverse is a frontier space and if you’ve watched cowboy movies, you know they can get a little crazy and, at times, dangerous. We’re definitely going to see trouble arise. The more people in them, the bigger those challenges will become. Think about what it’s like when a Twitter crowd forms around an issue; now imagine seeing that crowd visually represented in a metaverse space.

We will see errors; we will witness abusive and fraudulent behavior; we are going to see misinformation. We need to look at our existing risk management practices and use our imagination to apply them to the metaverse before problems arise,” Pinch says.

Volkswagen launches NFT brand campaign

In the same way that today’s iterations of social media initially arrived and became a bit of a minefield for practitioners, getting the best results from the metaverse will take some trial and error. That said, social media has also proven that it can be a phenomenally valuable resource if used correctly and there are big payoffs for agencies that have shown a bit of “chutzpah.” “digital from the start.

Pinch concludes, “The more the audience grows in metaverse spaces, the more influence will be shaped there. It will therefore be a question of clients partnering with agencies that have experience. Money will flow as the population of the metaverse grows, and seeing this happening with Web 1.0, many agencies won’t move fast enough and will be caught off guard when they suddenly realize how bad it has become. important.

Early adopters can be richly rewarded. It could be a key form of real connection and humanity, in an all-digital world.